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Military might unfolds at majestic Rajpath

Kaleidoscopic images of India's rich cultural diversity and its military might unfolded on the 58th R-Day.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 11:50 IST

Kaleidoscopic images of India's rich cultural diversity and its military might unfolded at the majestic Rajpath on Friday as the nation celebrated the 58th Republic Day amidst tight security.

An impressive and colourful parade, a traditional attraction of the national event, marched down the broad avenue connecting the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhawan and the India Gate as President APJ Abdul Kalam took the salute from marching contingents.

Armed forces in battle regalia, proudly marching before their supreme commander, fascinating tableaux depicting the diverse culture, country's prized armaments and hundreds of colourfully-dressed dancing schoolchildren formed part of the 105-minute-long parade.

The annual extravaganza was watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the chief guest, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the entire military and political top brass besides a large enthusiastic crowd that had gathered on either sides of the sun-drenched Rajpath.

Ahead of the parade, the Prime Minister, Defence Minister AK Antony and the three Service chiefs laid wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate where an eternal flame burns in memory of those countless personnel in uniform who laid their lives defending frontiers of the nation.

With the unfurling of the tricolour by the President and the playing of National Anthem by military bands followed by a customary 21-gun salute, the parade began as Air Force helicopters showered flower petals on the gathering.

Present among the audience were Prime Minister's wife Gursharan Kaur, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Union Ministers and Leader of the Opposition LK Advani.

The first to appear in the parade were winners of the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra, the nation's highest gallantry awards, followed by mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry led by Malaysian Prince Captain Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, the first foreigner to take part in the parade.

The Army showcased its T-72 tanks, Bofors guns, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launching system, tactical control reporter radar, mobile de-contamination system and Army Wide Area Network on mobile node.

The indigenously-built Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv' was also showcased with three of the choppers flying past Rajpath.

Colourfully-attired military contingents made their entry marching to the tune of motivational song kadam kadam badaye jaa.

The Parachute Regiment was followed by Brigade of the Guards, the first mechanised battalion of the Army, and various other regiments accompanied by their bands.